Friday, November 03, 2006

For K-5, K-8 and ALAs about reading

Letter about reading.

The changes to the grading in the reading programs have been a bit of a hurdle for some of the students and families, yet alone teachers, in the district. A letter is headed to all. Here it is, cut and pasted below.
Superintendent of Schools


Dear Parents/Guardians:

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Excellence for All reform agenda recognizes literacy as the primary building block for all learning. One of the objectives of Excellence for All is to increase the percentage of students proficient in reading on the PSSA by the end of 3rd grade from 49% (2004-2005) to 80% by the end of the 2008-2009 school year.

Providing a rigorous curriculum aligned to state standards is critical to achieving the goal of improved academic performance for children at all levels. Among the steps the District has taken toward meeting that goal is the adoption of Treasures, a new reading/language arts program published by Macmillan McGraw/Hill. Treasures is currently being implemented in Kindergarten through Grade 5.

As the District moves from the previous reading program to Treasures, you may notice an initial change in your child’s grades for two specific reasons:

The difference in the way students are tested in the new Treasures Reading Series

The new standardized district-wide grading guidelines


In the previous program, students read and discussed one selection per week. The weekly tests were then based on comprehension of that story as well as the skills taught. This year, students read three selections a week focusing on the same vocabulary and skills. Then on the weekly test, they read a different text that focuses on the same vocabulary and skills. This is known as a “cold read”.

The advantage of a “cold read” is that the test better measures how well children have learned the skills that were taught as well as strategies they apply as they encounter other “cold reads” such as books, newspapers, magazines, etc.


A standardized procedure for grading has been established and implemented throughout the District. This means student achievement in reading will be measured in the same way in each classroom across the District in grades 1-5. The grades are based on weekly assessments, unit assessments and classroom assignments. To measure what your child has learned, a nine-week grade will be based primarily on work that was graded according to these procedures.

Treasures reflects the most recent reading research and represents the first new reading program developed since the release of the National Reading Panel’s findings. Treasures supports Pennsylvania State Standards and the requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Further information on Treasures can be provided by speaking to the Principal or Curriculum Coach at your child’s school or by calling the Parent Hot Line at 412-622-7920.


Dr. Barbara Rudiak

Project Manager, Macmillan
This got coverage in the P-G, after it was blogged about yesterday.

Tougher reading program means low city grades Tougher reading program means low city grades

Friday, November 03, 2006
By Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Parents of some Pittsburgh elementary school students will find an unwelcome surprise -- unusually low marks in reading -- when their children bring home report cards Nov. 17.

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